[June 25: Edited to correct various typos, grammar, and factual errors.]
Many men reach a moment of truth within life. For some, that moment related to “hitting bottom,” that sequence of events that leads one’s life trajectory to find it’s minima following an inflection into a negative trajectory. For others, the moment of truth involves a leap of faith: some critical impasse among life choices that can only be overcome by addressing a deep failure to adequately comprehend reality with a reliance upon luck or presumed divine intervention. Still others obtain some insight into the mysteries of life due to some grand stress, overcoming an obstacle of theretofore insurmountable difficulty, and finding untapped internal capability. Still others receive some calling, often purportedly divinely communicated, which thereafter directs than man’s actions toward undeniable goals. I have none of these, although one particular incident sticks in my mind as enlightening.
While driving home from A-kon sometime during the last decade, a wheel broke from a dirt race track alongside Interstate 30 outside Texarkana and struck the car in which I was driving. Before that, I think it passed through a livestock trailer. The wheel struck the right front post of the sedan I was driving, crushing that portion of the car and shattering the front passenger window and right half of the windshield. Had I been a split-second further ahead or farther behind, the wheel would have missed the cab post and killed me. Had I been more than a second farther ahead or further behind, the wheel would have missed me entirely.
There’s certainly more narrative to the anecdote, but what seems interesting in hindsight is my reaction to the event. You see, the next day I was scheduled to confirm my membership with the Episcopal church. Before you draw any conclusions, I’ll reveal that I did confirm my membership the following year, so this is not some road to Damascus moment. What that event did for me – and several other less noteworthy events have provided since – is force me to pause and consider the brevity and precarious fragility of my life, and re-evaluate the importance of several social statements I have made with my actions and associations.
That said, I’d like to explain to you why I abandoned Christianity so that you may hopefully comprehend why, for the most part, I perceive most men who purport Christianity to be vulgar animals, and why I see most atheists similarly. The essence of Christianity, in my evaluation, is the abandonment of moral responsibility for personal vice upon the person of a divine savior. For this service, that savior demands personal enslavement to that deity, except…
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “[Papa!]” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
In other words, as a Christian, your divine brother, Jesus your savior, by mediation of the Spiritus Sancti, absorbs your debt into his payment of all the debts incurred by mankind for criminality before deity, including debts not yet incurred, and in so doing, establishes your status as adopted sons of the deity which is his father and into the family of the godhead.
So, tell me, do you believe that? And if you find yourself fully and unequivocally believing, how do you continue to call “brother” men you know do not believe according to the actions they execute?
My fall from grace was, and remains, twofold. First, I realized that I could no longer continue to associate with men whose commitment to a savior from damnation was so fickle that every conceivable sin was contemplated alongside and with equal value any course plainly and conspicuously directed by divine biblical instruction, with the preponderance of decisions favoring animal pleasure when not decided upon personal profit.
Second, I realized that my purported relationship with deity was premised upon my unsubstantiated claim upon a spiritual component to reality for which I had no resort to evidence. When pressed, I could not say, “Jesus stood before me, alive, having been in a tomb, dead, and showed me the holes in his hands and his feet, so I would believe.” I’ve never seen a burning bush unconsumed by flames, nor any other rules-of-reality-defying proof of a reality-controlling-and-altering deity. For this reason, I cannot relate to others events I have not myself witnessed for which I must rely upon the word of others as purported witnesses.
When these two conundrums intersect, the apparent faithlessness of Christians and the required reliance upon Christian witnesses to establish foundational assumptions for life(and afterlife-)-directing action, the perfect definition of deceit results.
From this core grows much of my disenchantment with Christianity, though I still mine it for such wisdom as may be found. Even so, when I observe Christianity, I cannot help but see it saddled upon every Christian who claims that faith, and count myself better served by abandoning faith for cynicism – both contemporary and philosophical.